If you’re looking for a quick vampire fix, this ain’t it. This is the most unusual vampire story I’ve ever seen, and it will challenge all we know about them and how they came to be. And also the way we read.
Day Unto Night by TammyJo Eckhart released a couple of weeks ago in the vampire genre.
A Sumerian child named Ningai survives the murder of her entire family and cries out to her people’s gods, who answer her prayer in an unexpected way. Now, as the first of the Akhkharu, the living dead, Ningai embarks on a journey across the millennia to rebuild what she lost. The best of her offspring must maintain some shred of goodness to prove worthy to their Child-Mother while fighting the deadly impulses of their kind. Join their journeys across time in a series of interconnected stories from the earliest cities to a brutal future where humans are mere pawns in the hands of near gods. Like all of us, Ningai and the best of her children will stop at nothing to protect her family. Can they succeed before they lose what’s left of their humanity, or will all of humanity become enslaved to the Akhkharu forever?
Karl had locked all the doors, and out of the corner of his eye, Swaggart could see him shooting anyone who tried to get the two doors opened. Since his slave was armed with several guns now, the sword at his feet, most of the bastards were staying a good distance from Karl, cowering from him as the bodies started to build up.
That was the last thought he had before the other Akh had him by the throat and up against one of the columns in the room. Attempts to break the other’s hold proved futile, and he started to feel his flesh and bones sever around his neck when the other vamp burst into flames and screamed, releasing his grip. Staggering back on his hands and knees, Swaggart watched in horror as the politico’s body continued to burn until it was collapsing in a pile of ash that turned to smoke.
He had only a moment to wonder what had happened when three Nazis piled on him. Rage exploded from him as he ripped them limb from limb, and shots rang out around him as the rest ran screaming into Karl’s bullets or fell at Swaggart’s feet as he lashed out with every part of himself.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
TammyJo Eckhart, PhD, is the published author of science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, horror, and historical fiction. Her non-fiction works covering subjects ranging from history to alternative sexuality to relationship advice and the challenges of trauma recovery. She holds a PhD in Ancient History with doctoral minors in Gender & Sexuality and Folklore. Her blog, The Chocolate Cult, has been the go-to guide for chocolate lovers since 2009. She loves visiting conventions as well as organizations to read, sell books, or share her experiences and insights on various topics in the form of lectures or workshops.
The Story Behind Day Unto Night
By TammyJo Eckhart ©2021
Viviana, you made my month when you said that this was “the most atypical vampire story” that you’ve found. Thank you for letting me lay that out for everyone today.
I have a lifelong fascination with vampires. There are many creatures that are said to be humans brought back from death, but the vampire can be the most self-aware of what she is. In my study of history, folklore, and popular culture, I’ve seen many different types of vampires. Bram Stoker’s mythos may be the one most readers think of, but it certainly wasn’t the first. All that variety enabled me to be picky about what I liked and didn’t like. While I’ll give almost anything with a vampire in it a try, I won’t finish reading or watching it if I find it boring, illogical, or unnecessarily violent, or if I feel that it reinforces patriarchy.
I sold my first story in 1995, but it wasn’t until 2004 that I put out a vampire piece. In those nine years several things happened that gave me confidence. I met other people who were also into vampires, and I learned a lot more, particular at fandom conventions. I joined and then ran a vampire RPG that became so popular that I ran it at multiple conventions over several years. Throughout that period, I worked on a doctoral minor in folklore and learned research methods that I also applied to vampire lore. Finally, I wanted to try writing a vampire story myself.
I knew I wanted it to be told in a different narrative style than I was used to and which I didn’t see often when it came to vampire tales: a sequence of interconnected short stories. I like to challenge myself to write in different styles from time to time, so this really continued that trend for me. As I worked on it, I made mini challenges to tell each character pairing from a different angle or decade/century, sometimes in a different voice. I hope that isn’t too off-putting for the reader; I hope it keeps it fresh and keeps engaging your mind as you read.
I knew I wanted to draw from a historical folklore that wasn’t often used, so I went further and further back until I discovered the Sumerian term “Akhkharu,” which is commonly translated into English as “vampire.” The Blade universe is supposed to begin in Sumer, but as far as I knew, it didn’t stick with the historical culture much, so that felt like fertile ground to me. I had to keep doing research because different characters are from different time periods.
What is the point of having a vampire novel set in one period? Yes, you can go into a lot of detail, as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro does, but I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to focus on the interpersonal relationships of the vampire, not their participation in events important to humans, who cannot possibly live for millennia.
I could have just told the story of vampires from their very genesis through Ningai’s eyes. The problem with that had to do with my existing audience, who expect me to have more mature or sexual content in my books. That was not going to work for me or for any mainstream publisher. Also, over the past decade, I’ve noticed a trend in fiction of irrelevant or unnecessary viewpoint characters. If I wrote stories featuring pairs of characters, then brought them together as the overarching story developed, I hoped I could overcome what I find annoying about those books, while satisfying an apparent hunger among readers for a massive cast.
Finally, after a former literary agent wasn’t getting traction with this novel, I asked if she thought it might help to write a strong central story to begin, interweave, and end the book with. She thought it could. I created that as a single story that I then added in the appropriate places. The appearances of Ningai within the stories were already there, though; I added this connective material to draw the reader’s eye to her more.
If I’ve done my job well, you’ll get to the end and feel like you’ve made a discovery about vampires and about yourself. Or maybe you‘ll just want to go back and re-read it. You tell me if I’ve succeeded.
Dr. TammyJo Eckhart’s Edgy World @thetammyjo
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